Senate Democrats and a substantial number of Republicans believe they can save an obscure, 81 year-old U.S. government bank, despite almost united opposition from GOP leadership in both chambers of Congress, after a key test vote Wednesday showed that they have near-filibuster proof support.
One such advocate, Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, pledged that it's not a question of if Congress will reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, but when.
"It will get done," she said in a news conference Thursday. "Someday."
That may be too late for the bank, a cause célÃ¨bre for conservatives who view the credit agency as a blatant example of crony capitalism, as its charter expires June 30. Ex-Im opponents have claimed the upper hand in negotiations, pointing out that there are few ways in which the supporters could force a vote by then, as nearly every member of the GOP leadership that controls the floor oppose the bank.
But the show vote in the Senate on Wednesday on an amendment to a defense bill proved the bank has widespread support—65 votes.
"Guess what's moving," said North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. "The Ex-Im Bank and the support for the Ex-Im Bank. That's what's moving. We could do a standalone bill tomorrow."